This landmark publication comprises two manuscripts written in the 1870s by one of the greatest tohunga of Ngāti Porou. Mohi Ruatapu, of Tokomaru Bay, was one of the teachers at the last Whare Wānanga (School of Learning) on the East Coast, north of Tūranga (Gisborne district). Much later, as an old man, he recorded the myths, legends and songs of his people.
Mohi Ruatapu’s writings are regarded as the most important single body of writing on myth produced by any nineteenth-century Māori writer. Prior to the publication of this book in 1993 only a few short extracts had been published. The work includes the Māori text in full with an introduction, English translation and annotations by Anaru Reedy.
Anaru Totorewa Reedy (Ngāti Porou) is also the translator, editor and annotator of Ngā Kōrero a Pita Kāpiti: The teachings of Pita Kāpiti (CUP, 1997).
Anaru Reedy became a specialist in the transcribing, translating and annotating of ancient Ngāti Porou texts that had been written down in te Reo Māori by Mohi Tūrei and Hēnare Pōtae, starting in 1871. The manuscripts were written at the dictation of renowned Ngāti Porou tohunga: Toki Puanga, Mohi Ruatapu, and Te Rangiuia, all teachers from the Whare Wānanga called Te Rāwheoro, situated at Uawa near Tolaga Bay on the East Coast; and Pita Kāpiti, the tohunga who taught at the Whare Wānanga called Te Tapere-nui-o-Whātonga near Tikitiki. Anaru Totorewa Reedy thanks the tupuna who have left us this great legacy.
A Teaching Fellowship allowed Anaru Reedy to spend a year in the Department of Māori at UC, 1990–1991, where he worked closely with Dr Margaret Orbell, and he received support for his studies from Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies. At one time Lecturer in Māori at the College of Education, Dunedin, he went on to become Tumuaki Māori with Creative New Zealand.